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Sunday, 17 December, 2000, 12:40 GMT
Rwandan genocide suspects jailed
Bones of genocide victims
Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in 1994
A Rwandan court has sentenced 14 people to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Radio Rwanda said eight others had received lesser prison sentences while two were acquitted.

All the suspects were charged with crimes committed in Taba Commune in 1994, when over 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists.

It was the latest in a continuing series of trials of genocide suspects which the government admits has overwhelmed the Rwandan justice system.

Dilemma

More than 120,000 genocide suspects, crammed in Rwandan prisons, have been awaiting trial for years.

But with many judges and lawyers killed during the genocide, the government accepts that many suspects may die before their cases are heard.

More than 100 people have been sentenced to death, but only a handful of the sentences have been carried out.

Attempts by the government to relieve the strain on the prisons by releasing certain categories of suspects such as the elderly or very young have been criticised by relatives of genocide victims and sometimes led to popular retaliation against those released.

International court

Parallel to the trials under way inside Rwanda, an international tribunal based in Tanzania has slowly been trying a number of the alleged ringleaders of the genocide, who have been extradited from exile elsewhere in Africa and the West.

Relations between the Rwandan Government and the Arusha tribunal have frequently been strained.

Rwanda has criticised the resources poured into the international court - as well as the allegedly lenient sentences it imposes - when its own legal system is under such strain.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | Africa
Rwanda genocide appeal fails
22 Jan 00 | Africa
Rwanda updates genocide list
27 Apr 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
From butchery to executions in Rwanda
18 Mar 99 | Africa
Eyewitness: Rwanda's survivors
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